More wacky characters, complications, scandals and fatalities than a year’s run of your favorite tabloid.

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VENGEANCE IS MINE

1967. Thimble-sized Center Springs, Texas, misses out on the Summer of Love but not, evidently, on one single other incident in this overstuffed shoot’em-up.

Top Parker and his cousin Pepper, both 13, sense that life is passing them by. Pepper especially would love to get out of Center Springs for someplace more exciting. Little does she know that excitement is headed her way. Tony Agrioli, an enforcer for Vegas mobster Malachi Best, abruptly decides to retire to the country when Best orders him to execute not only a rival casino owner, but his whole family. Along with his brand-new pickup, Samantha Chesterfield and a safe they’ve liberated from Best’s home, he makes a beeline for Center Springs because his pal Cody Parker always spoke so highly of it. Tony’s arrival comes as quite a surprise to Cody, now the town’s top lawman (Burrows, 2012, etc.), and an even bigger surprise to Lamar County Sheriff Donald Griffin. The sheriff, who’d double-crossed Best himself in a deal to launder drug money by slipping into the mix some counterfeit currency he’d promised to pass for Best, naturally assumes that Tony has come looking for him, just as Tony assumes that Griffin in turn is gunning for him. In other hands, this mutual misunderstanding might serve as the engine for an extended comedy of crime. But Wortham is so busy investigating the murder of Tommy Lee Stark, keeping tabs on the many lovers of Karen Ann Reidel, and touching base, it seems, with every citizen of Center Springs that the only plot strand that holds his attention is the one that drives every able-bodied cast member with a firearm, including some imports from Kansas City and Dallas, to unload on everyone else.

More wacky characters, complications, scandals and fatalities than a year’s run of your favorite tabloid.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4642-0258-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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